CyberTech Rambler

September 4, 2006

Net Neutrality is important, and will ultimately wins!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:37 am

Net neutrality issue is hotting up. It started getting the limelight when a telecom company decided that it might try his hand on getting content providers, such as Google, to pay for faster access to their customers. It got heated with Content Providers like Google taking the side for “Net Neutrality”, i.e., equal speed for all providers, and internet connection providers (carriers) on the other side insisting that content providers should also be paying to ride on their network. Both sides have very deep pocket so we see words flying in Congress as well.

After Congress, they are trying to influence public opinion. The latest salvo is the so-called “Mumbo-jumbo” advertisement from a cable company association. Hence, it is not surprising to say that it is against “Net Neutrality”. The advert highlight the fact that the cost of paying for internet access by you, the consumers, can be lowered if content providers share the cost with the internet service provider.

Another arguement posted by anti-Net Neutrality campaigners is that a big chunk of the traffic comes from a few big content providers and it is therefore it is only fair that they share the cost with the carriers.

Proponent of “Net Neutrality” argues that equal access is important for free speech, and it is not the role of the carrier to act as gate keeper and censorship body for the joe public.

This is effectively a battle on business strategy adopted by the middleman. Content Providers needs carriers (the middleman) to reach their customers and carriers see this as an opportunity to develop a new business model. This business model relies on the fact that they cannot be cut off. Carriers will always explore ways of getting more money in return for access to their network. Previously, carriers can charge consumers a premium for faster internet access. However, nowadays, speed of access is less of a problem and fast internet is rapidly becoming commodity. Thus, it is not surprising that carriers are exploring new ways to charge for their services, and targetting Content Providers therefore, not a surprise move.

Content Providers’ arguement is stronger on the cost-sharing issue raised by the carrier. If Google does not invest in fibre-optics access to cope with the load, Google Search will be slow and abandoned by users. In other words, Google is already paying their share for net access.

On the otherhand, if someone state upfront that “Internet access” will be free, paid for by Microsoft and thus you cannot access Google if you use this service, is this a bad deal?

What is lost in all these discussion is that carriers seems to have forgotten that it is a symbiotic relationship: Without Content Providers providing contents that their customers want, a paid-for fat pipe is not going to generate any revenue at all for them. I use Google daily and will be unlikely to use any services that deliver services that intentionally slow down Google for me.

This business strategy of controlling access is only a short term one. I see a parallel in the mobile telephony, at least here in Europe. First, we see people paying a premium to make mobile call when mobile phone is a novelty. Then, choosing a mobile network become important because it is expensive to call across different mobile network. However, nowadays, with lower end tarriffs at least, there is little to differentiate between calling to any network at all. Hence, I believe eventually Net Neutrality will not be the issue, as it is in the interest for carriers to be “net netural”.

Carriers should be neutral and they enjoy special status in law becuase of their neutrality. You cannot sue the Post Office for delivering a “mail bomb”, your webhosting provider cannot be sued for delivering your racist view that offend everyone. Your telecoms company cannot be sued if their network is used by criminal to deliver the “ransom note” or worse, a virus to your computer. To start controlling acess is to violate this trust.

However, the reality is, there is money to be made in controlling access for the carrier. This may be a short term strategy, made even shorter by the fact that the carriers are trying to milk both end for profit, but it does works for carriers. As for you and I, the consumers, we will always be the casualty as both party try to milk as much as possible from us. The battleground today is for Hearts and Minds. As consumers, it is our interest to fight for “Net Neutrality” because overall and in the long run, we pay less and suffer less pain if “Net Neutrality” survive. So, please support Save The Internet.

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2 Comments »

  1. I think one of the most important points to consider in the net neutrality debate is whether or not it is truly wise to put control over the web in the hands of the government. Do we trust stuffy old bureaucrats to understand the internet well enough to properly legislate it without having monumental and detrimental impacts on how it works? Do we trust the bureaucrats in Washington to be agile enough to roll with the punches as the internet does what it’s best at and changes courses overnight?

    Personally, I don’t feel that the government is properly equipped to handle such responsibility, and feel that the best entity to maintain it’s control over the future of the internet are the consumers and the free market. In other words, you and me.

    Check out my coalition’s website for another perspective on the net neutrality debate, and feel free to drop us a line with any questions you might have.

    http://handsoff.org

    Comment by Hands Off The Internet — September 5, 2006 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

  2. I hope it is clear that, like everyone, I have an agenda. My agenda is I do not like my ISP to artificially slowdown my network connection simply because my friend at the other end refuses to pay him. To me, internet is like telephone call, I initial the call, I paid for the call, my telecom company should NOT be permitted to degrade my telephone call by inserting delays, noise and other nasties because the person I call did not pay him a dime directly.

    I like your stories about Google’s Wired vs Wireless distinction. I am not surprise that Google managed to arrive at the absurb conclusion it did. It demonstrate precisely why the law is the last resort: attorneys can frame it into whatever they want.

    I agree with you that legislation is the last resort. I hope the market prevail. However, legislation is a weapon to correct market distortion. Insiders trading is bad, and the market will, given time, shunt companies indulging in insiders trading, or those that hired inside traders as executives. However, most people will agree that insider trading is so hedious that it is necessary to legislate against it. We may be not at the same junction yet and I do hope we do not arrive at this junction. If we do, I will have to stand at the Net Neutrality camp. If we ever reach that points, it is not about who wins and who lose, it is about the minimal loses.

    Comment by ctrambler — September 5, 2006 @ 1:32 pm | Reply


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